Streets Are for People – My Urbanist Transformation

This post is meant to bridge the gap between my past car centered content, and my new city/urbanist focused posts. First a little background:

Growing Up

I grew up in an automotive family. My dad and his brothers raced their Chevrolet Vega at various NHRA events around the country. As that wound down, my uncle opened a performance engine shop, C&S Performance. My dad has been the engine assembler there for most of my life. I attended races/car shows most weekends, and we made an annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis for the largest drag race of the year.

I had my license within months of turning 16, and spent much of high school working on my Camaro with my dad. I was a fully fledged car guy until my trip to Germany as I turned 18.

The Trips

My first taste of international public transit, and non car-centric city planning came on my visit to Germany in high school. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. The family I stayed with relied almost exclusively on public transit. My group rode trains, and buses throughout Munich, Bavaria, and neighboring countries. I was amazed at how easy it was to get around.

Upon my return I still enjoyed working on and driving cars, but a shift had started. I no longer saw cars as the ultimate transit mode.

Since then I’ve been able to travel a lot, and I try to experience as many cities as possible. I focus on staying in walk-able neighborhoods and emphasize car-less or car-light travel.

In the last 5 years alone I’ve used public transit and traveled car-less in:

  • New York City NY
  • Washington DC
  • Boston MA
  • Miami FL
  • Chicago IL
  • Denver CO
  • Phoenix AZ
  • Twin Cities MN
  • Nashville TN
  • Osaka Japan
  • Tokyo Japan
  • Munich Germany
  • Venice/Verona Italy
  • Prague Czechia
  • Dublin Ireland
  • Frankfurt Germany
  • Berlin Germany
  • Amsterdam Netherlands
  • Copenhagen Denmark
  • Playa del Carmen Mexico

    The more I saw of the world, the more I knew what I wanted from a city – less cars.


I finally hit an inflection point. While I still enjoy the sport nature of cars, I don’t believe cities should be built around them as the primary mode of transit. Dad has the Corvette now, and I am a strong proponent of public transit, walk-ability, bicycle lanes, and a stark opponent of extra lanes, and free parking. I write my representatives, and push for more infrastructure in these areas.

Going forward, there likely won’t be much more car content. I will try to write about who I am now: a transit rider with too many bikes who believes that streets are for people.

Side Projects:, and

I created a couple of web apps to analyze Donald Trump, and learn more about Azure services. While they are not complete, the election is looming, and I want to share them with anyone interested in using them.


TrumpNewsDB is a searchable/filterable database of Trump related news, and summaries over the last 4 years. A few different lists of link collections were pulled in and had dates, categories, source information attached. The news articles currently only go through pre-Covid-19, but I have created some Azure Logic Apps / Functions to automatically load new articles / missing articles that I hope to have up, and running this week.

The sheer amount of news articles meant I needed some help, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my wife, and friends combing through articles, dates, and tags.


PresidentTweety pulls in tweets by Donald Trump, and analyzes them using Azure Cognitive Text Analytics. It then tweets out the analysis, and a link using the twitter account @PresTweetyApp. It includes small dashboard which shows data from the past 24 hours.

If I’m honest, this one could use a little more time in the oven, but I realized over time that people don’t really care how crazy/disrespectful his tweets are so I lost interest.

Next Steps

These projects were pretty fun to work on, and a great outlet for my extra pent up 2020 energy. I learned a ton about Azure, and feel pretty confident in my ability to use a number of services I had not even heard of 6 months ago. I’m going to continue to work on them as I have time, and hope to create a small write up explaining each in a little more detail.

Please Vote!

Please vote in the upcoming election on November 3. If you need more information about how to vote or methods to vote, check out out, or I’m not an expert ,but if you need more personal help, reach out to me on Twitter (@hailmike) and I’ll do what I can. Do your own research, and make sure the candidates you are voting for will best represent you. Finally, don’t forget the down ballots. Your local representative may seem unimportant, but they have a lot more impact than you think.

You’re Missing the Point – a Way Too Long Facebook Response on the Unrest in Kenosha

I don’t condone it, but I understand it.

I’m a 32 year white male who is not rich by any means, but I live a very comfortable life. I haven’t experienced racism first hand, but I have likely benefited many times due to my race, especially with the law/police.

This is the gist as I see it. It isn’t meant to be linear, but instead provide a thought process.

Black people tell their stories of racism, how they have been profiled, how they haven’t been given a fair shake in the US compared to their white counterparts, and how government policies have been enacted to keep them down.

White people tell them it’s not happening, or that if it is, it’s not often, or that they started with nothing, and still made something of it, and that slavery/jim crow laws/lynchings/segregation/red lining/war on drugs/racist judicial system/racists in power/white flight/defunding public schools and services had nothing to do with it.

Black people see their own race killed by police for unknown reasons, and cry outrage and demand justice.

White people say yeah that’s kind of bad, but no reason to really change anything. He was just one bad cop.

Black people tell their stories of other bad cops who appear to be policing using racist tactics.

White people say you’re probably exaggerating, or embellishing your stories. There are some bad cops, but not that many. No reason to really change anything.

Black people see their own race killed by police for not following orders, cry outrage, and demand justice.

White people tell them the cop was in the right, because the black man didn’t follow orders, not following orders means he deserves whatever he gets, the cop felt endangered because he could have had a weapon – even though this situation nearly always end in non lethal force being used when it’s a white suspect, and our state allows for concealed carry which essentially means everyone could have a weapon, and practically always gives them a reason to shoot first, and be judge/jury/executioner. Plus the guy was super shitty anyway so he probably deserved it. (Aside: I’ve heard this way too often for it to be only a few crazies who think this.)

Black people, and their allies protest to demand more transparency, and accountability from their police force. They also look to reduce the funding for the very same police force which had their funding cranked up during the war on drugs, and consumes most of their city’s taxes and to reapply it to public services which had been defunded.

White people complain that it’s blocking traffic or making their lives uncomfortable. Plus there is no need to really change anything.

Meanwhile the protests are unsuccessful because the white republican government at the state level refuses take action (and still refuses to take up bills 140 days later). Bills are passed in the US house, but stall in the white republican controlled US Senate. The protests result in no meaningful change.

Black people and their allies: OK we’ll vote them out of power!

Wisconsin republicans are one step ahead, and have carved out small chunks of democratic leaning Milwaukee, and added them to very conservative suburbs. This produces a gerrymander where they own each house of government even though they don’t get more of the vote.

Black sports athletes and their allies try to bring awareness to issues and pressure their government to do something about it.

White people tell them to stick to sports, and they are boycotting their sport, because politics don’t belong in sports.

Additionally Wisconsin republicans in the legislature echo this sentiment, “gavel in” for their forced special session, and leave. They take up zero of the governor’s bills that have been sitting for months. These so called “pro local control” republicans have the audacity to release details on bills they are thinking about proposing that not only ignore the calls for reform, but include a point of emphasis on a “maintenance” addendum which threatens to reduce state funding for cities that reduce their police funding. They hope to have something prepared in 4 months.

4 MORE MONTHS. That’s another 122 days on top of the already 140 days they wasted doing nothing.

At this point people feel outraged. They feel like you’re not allowed to take part in the system, They feel like they haven’t been given a fair shake in the country. No one is listening. And you really don’t have anything to lose. Why wouldn’t you want to burn it down? What’s in the system for you?

This isn’t just poor black people feeling this way. As I said prior, I am a comfortable 32 year old white male, and I don’t know what to do with all of this energy. This frustration. This outrage. This overwhelming need to do something about it.

I’ve protested. I’ve talked to people. I’ve blogged. I’ve donated. I’ve reached out to my representatives. I’ve tweeted. I’ve tried to bring awareness. I’ve now started to do side projects using my web development skills hoping that a different medium would be more effective. I don’t really know what more to do.

If you’re only outraged at the destruction/vandalism then you’re missing the point. Where was your outrage during anything else I wrote?

About Face Masks/Social Distancing – a Way Too Long Facebook Response

I’m going to try a new system for creating content. I reply to a lot of Facebook posts. I spend more time than I care to share doing this. Yeah, I’m that guy.

I’m going to start sharing some of my replies as it:

  • Reinforces that I stand behind what I’m writing,
  • Forces me to research my facts,
  • Produces extra much needed content with little to no additional writing,
  • May lead to one additional person reading my thoughts (thanks Mom!)

Today I responded to a post:

  • If the masks work, then what are we social distancing?
  • If social distancing works, then why are we wearing masks?
  • If masks and social distancing work, then why are our businesses closed?
  • If we can stand in line at the grocery store, then why can’t we stand in line to vote?
  • Because it’s not about the virus it never was.
Continue reading “About Face Masks/Social Distancing – a Way Too Long Facebook Response”

Support Local Journalism

Despite the health risks, Wisconsin went forward with their Spring 2020 election today. After a short, distanced wait I was able to turn in our absentee ballots, and I spent the rest of my day following updates from the polling locations. It really reminded me how important it is to have good local journalists reporting our news.

Times are tough, and the news industry is facing hard times like everyone else. If you are able, I encourage you to support your local news sources.

The local news papers/sites I currently subscribe to include:

While I enjoy these, there are many other deserving local news sources in the Milwaukee metro. If you read a site/paper often, look in to what you can do to support them. Ads don’t always cut it, and many companies are reducing their advertising spending.

In Person Elections During a Pandemic Is a Mistake for Wisconsin

It’s been frustrating reading the news about the election in Wisconsin this Tuesday. Our governor Tony Evers has called for the election timeline to be delayed a month, and allow the entire election to be handled by mail, but Republican state representatives are pushing for it be held in person as scheduled. This is the wrong way forward as it encourages people to leave their homes , increasing the spread of Covid-19, and force people to choose between voting, or staying home as they need to do.

Continue reading “In Person Elections During a Pandemic Is a Mistake for Wisconsin”

Downsides/Gotchas of using Projections in Episerver Find

Episerver Find is my preferred way to write searches for Episerver. It allows me to write search queries quickly using a LINQ like syntax I am familiar with, while leveraging Episerver’s cloud servers to do the heavy lifting.

While this does shift some of our server load to Episerver’s servers, the standard implementation still relies on my servers to load model data, and build view models. Generally this isn’t slow, but processing complex view models can hurt performance, and impact server load, especially as result sets increase in size, and complexity.

Projections allow me to specify which fields Episerver Find should retrieve data for, for a given query. I try to use them wherever it makes sense, since it allows us to display results with very little server load. There are a few downsides/gotchas that I’ve had to work through though.

Continue reading “Downsides/Gotchas of using Projections in Episerver Find”

Debugging Episerver Find Queries

Episerver Find is a powerful search platform for Episerver, but it can be somewhat difficult to debug issues with. There are many posts on Episerver World discussing debugging with Fiddler, but none that describe how to configure it. I recently forgot myself and had to look it up again.

Add (or merge) the following to your development web.config:

      enabled = "true"
      useDefaultCredentials = "true">

Enable Filder to listen on the port, by going to Fidler -> Tools -> Options -> Connections, and setting the port number. Make sure “Act as a system proxy on startup” is checked too.

If Fiddler is having trouble reading HTTPS requests/responses, you may need to reset Fiddler’s HTTPS certificates.

Another Vote on Net Neutrality

There is going to be another vote on Net Neutrality. Unfortunately, it looks like as if it is only being used to influence the upcoming midterm elections. I don’t see how it could pass, and that is pretty disappointing. I was going to write more about this topic, with some updates, but instead I will post my original thoughts I shared when the initial vote happened.

Continue reading “Another Vote on Net Neutrality”